A dad on parental leave

Matthäus is CoE Lead Management Reporting & Advice and has usually – so he says - a lot of fun in his job. At the moment he's taking the advantage of parental leave for the second time and is enjoying spending time at home with his two boys. But is he really able to tune out? What does that mean for his career? And what does he expect from his employer when it comes to families? Matthäus told it to us.

Matthäus, how old are your two boys?

One of them is already four years old, the younger one only nine months. 

Do you guys have a favorite ritual? 

With the youngest, it's currently the bedtime routine. With the older one, I often play role-playing games while we cycle to kindergarten in the mornings. Through the decides to play, I learn a lot about what's on his mind. Family has been a big issue in the recent months. 

Why do you take parental leave for granted?? 

Initially, that wasn’t so obvious for me, because I really like my job and I am a career-oriented person. My wife is very passionate about her job as well. We both get a lot of satisfaction from our work. Nevertheless, we both wanted to have children, so it was pretty clear that we wanted to share the parental leave. For ING, diversity is an important factor: Part of this includes a well-balanced ratio of women and men in leadership positions. And to make this happen, traditional role models need to be challenged. Family and career should be in balance for both women and men – even in management positions. This enables employees to realize their own potential. And of course, it also helps ING if the full potential is unlocked. 

Are you really able to tune out? 

I really enjoy my job and working in banking. And of course, I keep an eye on what’s happening at ING, in my team and in the financial industry. I feel responsible for my team and my division, particularly as I'll return after a few months. However, I handed over responsibility during this time and I am looking back with some distance. 

For you as a team lead, has it been difficult to hand over your responsibilities? 

Even in regular times, there are some topics that cannot be handed over so easily, precisely those that require particular expertise. But sometimes personnel changes take place unexpected and without any handover. Organizations that are well-structured are able to manage this successfully. The important thing is, that explicit substitutes and responsibilities. Having this in place allows my replacement to try things out and prove itself in the months I am on leave. 

Why would you recommend that future dads take their parental leave? 

For me, the parental leave was and is a wonderful experience. I have the chance to build an intense relationship with my children. I certainly learned a lot about myself and evolved. The decision to take parental leave is a very personal one that each family should make for themselves. But no one should forego parental leave because of concerns about the career. Bottom line. In a company with a culture that doesn’t grant employees parental leave, it’s highly unlikely that anybody will be satisfied anyway.

Still, why only a few fathers in Germany take parental leave? 

Time and again, we hear in our private environment, that dads have to defend their decision to take a longer time for parental leave. While women are often criticized to return back to work “too early”. I believe that exactly this social pressure in private and professional environment is a major reason why many dads decide not to take parental leave.

What would you like to see from ING in terms of parenthood? 

I believe ING is a very family-friendly employer. Even the work-life balance has increased due to the hybrid working mode. A major problem for parents who have children up to primary school age is limited childcare, starting with daycare and ending with after-school programs and vacation activities. However, this is the concern of politics and the administration and cannot be completely covered by the employers.  

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